You have fallen in love again and you are contemplating your second marriage.
This is sweet.
Before you press the trigger, let’s talk about how to make this the relationship that fulfils your dreams. Your new relationship needs reflection because second marriages are harder and more likely to lead to divorce than first marriages.
Of course, you have more experience than the first time around. Let’s try to bank on that.
Your focus needs to be on your own behavior
Hopefully, you have learned that you are fallible and so is every human being and the chances of changing your partner are very limited.
This means that your focus needs to be on your own behavior. You want to take stock of yourself and learn new skills to be both rational and vulnerable in your relationship if you haven’t learned this already.
You need to be able to say what you want and what you don’t want calmly and respectfully.
Hopefully, you have reflected on your wounds from childhood and your first marriage and you understand your new partner is not responsible for healing those wounds, though they may be happy to help you ease them if you ask them nicely for what works for you.
These are skills. If you don’t have them, make a plan to learn by enrolling in a program that teaches you how to be emotionally intelligent in a relationship.
Making your partner #1 is a key principle in marriage
This is made harder by bringing in children from a previous marriage and having a previous partner with whom you will need to cooperate for the benefit of good parenting.
You need to discuss this fully with your new partner so that both of you understand your roles as biological parent and step-parent and you both feel respected and included in the household.
It requires extensive conversation and negotiation to establish your co-parenting alliance, as well as the primacy of your new marriage, and this benefits everyone.
With step-children in the house, it means that as a step-parent you get to formulate the house rules but not supervise or manage the rules until sufficient bonds grow between you and your step-children.
This takes time.
This is probably the biggest issue you will face and it requires sensitive, honest and comprehensive sharing by both partners. You need to decide together the rules of the house, what the children call the step-parent, and how you will provide financially for your household.
Let go of your first marriage
The dynamics of the family, if not planned wisely, will sabotage your new marriage.
This also means you need to let go of your first marriage and your previous partner. If you are bringing children into your new marriage, your relationship with your ex is as a co-parent only.
You must resolve your anger about what failed in your first marriage. You neither alienate your children’s other parent or allow their biological status, to exclude your new partner. This is good for your children as well as your new marriage.
Include conversations about religion, holidays, and obligations
If your new partner does not have children, they need to be aware of the time, finances and energy it takes to raise children.
All of these elements need to be mapped out so that the romantic fantasies of your new relationship do not cloud the picture of your new life together. This may include conversations about religion, holidays, and extended family obligations.
Money is an important issue to plan before you marry a second time
You need to think through how you provide for your new life.
Do you co-mingle all your funds or some of your monies? This is another complex issue. As a practising therapist, I have noticed that how money is treated in a marriage is a reflection of the level of trust and joined energy in the relationship.
You may need the help of a therapist or financial advisor to make good decisions about how you manage your money wisely as a couple.
It is worth the time it takes to talk about these issues before you marry so that you can manage your new life together with mutual respect and a deep, emotional connection.
Nourish your new relationship
With all these real-time responsibilities to negotiate, it is easy to forget to nourish your new relationship.
When you join your lives together, you must make the time to be together and relax and have fun along with the reality of your new and more complex life.
This could be a hobby together or at least a weekly date night. And, no matter how tired you are from all the responsibilities you have, regular romance and sexual intimacy is an essential connection.
That you are planning to marry again is a sign that you value marriage, continue to hope for loyal love, and are willing to commit to the sacrifice of self, involved in creating family and partnership.
You want to remind yourself of your vision and commitment on a regular basis because it will be challenged. You need to remember the alternative is not ideal. Thirty per cent of boomers is living alone as they were the first to usher in a generation of divorce.
Living alone can result in loneliness, depression and health risks. I salute you for your values and your stubborn faith that you can make a marriage work. Now, take responsibility for making it happen!
Wishing you love!
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
More by Barbara Grossman